Ugandan opposition party supporters based in the US at the weekend staged a peaceful demonstration outside the United Nations headquarters in New York, urging the international community to check on the excesses of President Yoweri Museveni’s administration.
In Kampala, the government dismissed the protestors as “busybodies, … with visa issues, …and justifying” their stay abroad, and said “they are not the first because we have had many people who pose as economic refugees in a way of mocking Uganda and they have never had any fruit from their actions”.
Rights abuse claims
Donning red T-shirts and berets, which are outlawed in Uganda as exclusive for use by military police, the National Unity Platform (NUP) protestors shouted slogans and held placards with messages denouncing the government.
“Masaka lives matter, Museveni must be investigated for crimes against humanity,” read one placard, as another was written “a government of dictatorship,”.
The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Mr Mathias Mpuuga, who was present at the protests, said: “We want the whole world to see the level of injustice, oppression, and intimidation currently going on in Uganda.”
The protests coincided with the 76th session of the UN General Assembly and were held a day after President Museveni addressed the Assembly.
“Uganda reaffirms its commitment to implementing the 2030 agenda for sustainable development in its entirety and to achieving the sustainable development goals as we commence a decade of action and deliverable development,” Mr Museveni told global leaders.
The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) sets out a vision for global progress grounded in international human rights standards and equality centred around economic and social rights as well as civil, political, and cultural rights.
The protestors accused Museveni’s administration of democratic and human rights abuses.
“We want to show the world the injustices going on in Uganda. The world must know that blatant human rights abuses are being committed in Uganda by the regime and its security agencies,’’ Mr Joel Semakula, the NUP coordinator in California, said.
The protestors were from NUP, a party led by Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine. Mr Kyagulanyi’s brother Fred Nyanzi Ssentamu, better known as Chairman Nyanzi, as well as Mityana Municipality Member of Parliament Francis Zaake were in New York.
Some of the demonstrators flew to New York from California and Seattle Washington.
In a rejoinder, Uganda Media Centre executive director Ofwono Opondo said: “We do not need to be told by anybody outside that abusing rights is something wrong. It is the [ruling] National Resistance Movement (NRM) group that made a Constitution and the laws”.
“[In August] President Museveni himself, without being forced by anyone, came out and condemned the human rights violation within security agencies and made an undertaking to punish anyone who involves themselves in the acts,” he said.
The demonstrators, according to Mr Opondo, are “lazy, idle people in the diaspora who have failed to come back and develop their country.”